Night Hike November 2015

40 L6 Gold participants completed a navigation exercise on Leith Hill on Friday night.  The six groups set off confidently, navigating to 8 check points in the forest where they removed markers to show they had completed each location.  They were especially efficient and successful groups and, from this snapshot activity, things bode well for the Gold expeditions next year.  Well done all!

Silver qualifying expedition October 2015 South Downs

85 5th year students trekked off in 14 groups across the South Downs, catching the train to Lewes, hiking for 3 days and then getting the train out from Arundel.  For the most part this route is not navigationally challenging but the hike presented groups with plenty of hills and some long distances on breezy ridges, and hopefully gave some a taste of why people like to hike even when not earning an award for it!  Weather was dry but chilly in the northerly wind especially if groups stopped in exposed places.  Every group performed well, supporting each other and working increasingly independently as the hike progressed.  Staff think this year group has been a special pleasure to work with, always polite and positive and spirited despite the challenges.  Well done all.

Bronze qualifying expedition North Downs

Over 100 students trekked off for their two day Bronze qualifying expedition 9-10 October in fine settled weather with misty damp autumn mornings.  Most groups performed very well in expedition skills.  Groups met the standards required in navigation and camp craft and, where they met difficulties they mostly fixed these independently.  In particular, assessing staff were pleased with teams LEAVING NO TRACE at their camp.  As is usual, navigation skills varied somewhat but we could see an effort to improve in groups lacking natural navigators.  A willingness to improve and persevere with expedition skills is important for those going on to silver.  Remember that DofE expeditions are not a race and that safe, considerate and purposeful travel across the countryside is the priority, not raw speed.  Visiting every single check point is critical to safe travel, as is communication with your assessor if something goes wrong.  Groups arrived at the end between 10am and 2pm, which is usual.  It was heartening that many found the time to say thank you to their assessors and supervisors who had looked after them and camped out too.  Well done all!

Gold DofE training hiking expedition South Wales

L6 Gold training expedition to South Wales: July 4-7.  South Wales western Brecons.  5 groups practiced navigation techniques and backpacked across the Brecon ridge to return to Dan Yr Ogof.  Weather was cool and a thunderstorm kept groups lower down and off the ridge on July 5.  After issues with kit (some bringing insufficient cold weather gear after a hot spell in the SE), groups coped well with the varying conditions.  Groups need to thoroughly prepare for their qualifying venture in August ensuring all their kit is properly organised and they are ready for the challenge.  Check training pages on this blog.

Bronze training hike May 2015

125 students and their Gold Award Leaders trekked off on their Bronze practice hike May3-4. The two day expedition covered 15 miles over the local North Downs area around Reigate and included 5 different camp locations.  The weather started wet and then improved to excellent walking conditions: cool and breezy. Groups performed well and supervising staff were pleased with their navigation ability.  A few groups went wrong but they corrected themselves effectively.  Camp craft was also pleasing with groups cooking some interesting meals, keeping a tidy camp and “leaving no trace” on departure.  As this was their first Bronze expedition it bodes very well for their October qualifying expeditions.

Bronze conservation day March 2015

P107041625 Bronze dofe Third Year students started their conservation volunteering programme today on Reigate Heath local nature reserve.  They spent the day working hard clearing invading trees like scots pine, with the aim of restoring the threatened lowland acid heathland habitat which has become rare because of development like roads, housing, recreation and golf courses. This group of students were outstanding in the way they engaged enthusiastically with all the activities: they listened to instructions, worked well together and improved an enormous area.  They did the tradition of RGS dofe conservation proud on their very first day of conservation activities … well done!

This lowland acid heath habitat used to cover larger parts of the South East on sandstone areas like Reigate Heath.  When grazing stopped trees and scrub invaded and destroyed the heathland.   Restoring heathland will improve the habitat and chances for animals like adders, grass snakes, slow worms, lizards and birds like sparrow hawks, crossbills and stonechat to thrive in our otherwise overcrowded part of the country.  Reigate Heath is a SSSI – site of special scientific interest, so it is protected from development but the animals and plants still need our help.

The students worked very hard all day raking out the thick nutrient rich soil which smothers heather seeds and stops their growth.  Heather likes the nutrient poor sandy soils beneath, so our students raked off the overlying “alien soil” to expose the sandy grey soils.

The students also felled selected trees including some Scots Pine and some Oak and Silver Birch.  These pre-selected trees opened up significant glades and will encourage the growth of heath seedlings which have lain dormant for a hundred years.

RGS students have worked on the Heath and elsewhere for nearly 10 years and so they can truly say they have improved local habitats for the benefit of local people and wild plants and animals. We like to say RGS students “Save The World starting in their own backyard”… and they certainly helped save a little tiny bit of Surrey today!

More details here:

Many thanks, as always, to Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers who run the day.

contact Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers (RACV) here http://www.racv.org.uk/

http://www.racv.org.uk/heath%20leaflet.pdf